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Gamergate Primer


Michael Hardner

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http://deadspin.com/the-future-of-the-culture-wars-is-here-and-its-gamerga-1646145844

Loooong article on Deadspin about this. I gleaned it, but in a nutshell:

The simplest version of the story goes something like this: In August, the ex-boyfriend of an obscure game developer writes a long, extensively documented, literally self-dramatizing, and profoundly deranged blog post about the dissolution of their relationship. Among his many accusations, he claims she slept with a gaming journalist in return for favorable coverage. This clearly isn't true, but a group of gamers becomes convinced there is a conspiracy to not cover this story. The developer's personal information is distributed widely across the internet, and she and a feminist gaming activist receive graphic, detailed threats, forcing the activist to contact the police and flee her home. In response, several sites publish think pieces about the death of the gamer identity. These pieces are, in essence, celebrations of the success of gaming, arguing that it is now enjoyed by so many people of such diverse backgrounds and with such varied interests that the idea of the gamer—a person whose identity is formed around a universally enjoyed leisure activity—now seems as quaint as the idea of the moviegoer. Somehow, this is read to mean that these sites now think gamers are bad. The grievances intensify, and the discussions of them on Twitter are increasingly unified under the hashtag #gamergate.

So it's about game journalism, sexism, and community. I'm most interested in the latter topic - what is the future of online communities ? Are these communities becoming self-organizing cultural groups with their own morals and customs ?

What are the implications to the world at large ?

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Becoming? Online communities are "self-organizing" cultural groups. The internet allows people whom in the past were too far removed spatially and temporally to come together in anonymity. We would never brush shoulders with these neanderthals in public because we would not seek the company of such socially incompetent and misogynistic individuals. Today, it doesn't matter where you live or at one time you visit these spaces. Everything is permanently documented and may be accessed from anywhere across the globe.

What does this mean for community? Well the dark side here is obvious. We have social organization the likes of Gamer Gate, harassing and terrorizing women under a thin guise of fighting for "ethical" journalism. You have groups like ISIS organizing their efforts and recruiting sympathizers across the globe. You have a platform for hate groups to congregate, spread their propaganda, and organize their efforts.

On the other hand, you see such things as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street coming together and fighting for a better world. You have forums to help support people that may otherwise have difficulty coming face-to-face with others to address their problems. You have anonymity to help those who are oppressed, such as LGBTQIA, speak out about their isolation and the problems they face.

There's a risk with any social organization that these folks will create an echo chamber that merely repeats their own beliefs and values back to them, never challenging them, and affirming what may be more complex and nuanced issues than they make them out to be. Every social group has specific features in common when they're sufficiently large. Groups need to have an identity, which includes norms and values. With any social identity there has to be sanctions for behaviours that do not fit the group's identity. These sanctions create a boundary between the group and the larger population from which it is drawn. Imagine it as the group carving itself out. This creates in-group and out-group relationships. Those seen as in-group are inherently deserving of loyalty and respect, while those seen as being part of the out-group are immediately seen as opposition and competition. You can even see this taking place in the microcosm of our forum, but I digress.

Internet communities are groups or communities like any other public version and they carry with them the same strengths and weaknesses. There have been a lot of analytical discussions about this in academia and I always find it odd that researchers need to think about people with various interests coming together on the internet as groups. The internet is a mode of communication, like sitting down at a meeting face to fact, talking over a conference call with people, or anything else. I'm not sure why it isn't perceived this way. Perhaps because of the permanence of the interactions which are published and retrievable at any time in the future. I suppose it is a bit different in the sense that the internet has "places" (such as this forum), but is also the means of communication by which we exchange ideas.

I suppose I'm rambling at this point. What was the question again? ;)

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Becoming? Online communities are "self-organizing" cultural groups.

You're right, but I was wondering if they'll be considered real cultural groups on a a par with groups that live in the real world. If the groups have largely anonymous members, should we care about them or are they court jesters of little consequence ?

There's a risk with any social organization that these folks will create an echo chamber that merely repeats their own beliefs and values back to them, never challenging them, and affirming what may be more complex and nuanced issues than they make them out to be. Every social group has specific features in common when they're sufficiently large.

Right, including dissent. Which means, to my mind, no 'open' group can become an echo chamber as disagreements will naturally occur. If people who disagree are excommunicated then that's not an open group.

This creates in-group and out-group relationships. Those seen as in-group are inherently deserving of loyalty and respect, while those seen as being part of the out-group are immediately seen as opposition and competition. You can even see this taking place in the microcosm of our forum, but I digress.

Given the fact that we have a lot of dissent on here, by design, what is MLW's out-group ? The worst trolls ? Spammers ?

The internet is a mode of communication, like sitting down at a meeting face to fact, talking over a conference call with people, or anything else. I'm not sure why it isn't perceived this way. Perhaps because of the permanence of the interactions which are published and retrievable at any time in the future. I suppose it is a bit different in the sense that the internet has "places" (such as this forum), but is also the means of communication by which we exchange ideas.

Sure, it's communication. All media are. But as McLuhan said, the medium is the message. Face to face communication and forums will produce different interactions. Even our own MLW online chat board is more congenial than our posting board. It's like the bar after the hockey game where both teams get together for a beer.

I suppose I'm rambling at this point. What was the question again? ;)

It's ok. This is a kind of chin-stroking discussion... ramble on.

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An old Atlantic Monthly article, now the title of a book, Jihad Vs Mcworld comes to mind. Don't let the title throw you, it was written before 9/11 and the word jihad took on the more sinister meaning now attached to it.

The two axial principles of our age—tribalism and globalism—clash at every point except one: they may both be threatening to democracy

I think it's pretty clear we live in a increasingly fractured world and the above-mentioned self-organizing communities are just smaller subdivisions. The only principle organizing force at work in the world appears to be globalism to which the reaction seems to be more fractured factionalism. I guess what I'm saying is that the drama unfolding in the above-mentioned gamer community/tribe is just one more teapot bubbling away in a much larger and probably overheated tempest.

Edited by eyeball
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Given the fact that we have a lot of dissent on here, by design, what is MLW's out-group ? The worst trolls ? Spammers ?

There's certainly "The Right" and "The Left" on this forum, which you don't tend to get on other Canadian political forums. That's the reason I've only ever posted here and can't stand that other place. That other places takes in-group as its own forum and out-group as other forums. I called this place a "microcosm" because we have groups existing side by side within our forum.

But that's the interesting thing about these theories and observations about groups. It depends on the level at which you're observing them. There may be an in-group and out-group mentality that sees solidarity between forum members here if another site, like 4chan or 8chan or something else, decided they wanted to do a "forum raid" on this place. There's collective solidarity here against spammers as well. True.

However, that's not the only solidarity here. There's also an expectation at this forum that people will put a little more thought into their posts and back up what they're arguing. Granted it doesn't always happen that way, but this is a "norm" here. Propaganda is also not really tolerated here to the extent that it is elsewhere. A new poster that comes to these forums advertising their blog and pushing a strong one-sided agenda is probably not going to be tolerated by any of the groups that exist within this forum.

So there's a couple ways of looking at it. We have within groups that exist, well, within the forum, but the entire forum itself is a group between groups which exist on a larger scale, well, between forums. :)

Edited by cybercoma
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Oh, groups usually have hierarchies too. So even within themselves there's always a bit of a food chain. They would be disorganized and lack identity otherwise. See also: why Occupy Wall Street failed. It fought against hierarchies within its group.

Edited by cybercoma
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I guess what I'm saying is that the drama unfolding in the above-mentioned gamer community/tribe is just one more teapot bubbling away in a much larger and probably overheated tempest.

And yet, the world is a better place to live than it was just a few decades ago by many measures including environmental awareness.

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I called this place a "microcosm" because we have groups existing side by side within our forum.

Right, but as you pointed out - we are together a group with our own norms and moral code. I am much more on the same page with Argus, with whom I disgree frequently, than a left-wing troll who gets booted off.

So there's a couple ways of looking at it. We have within groups that exist, well, within the forum, but the entire forum itself is a group between groups which exist on a larger scale, well, between forums. :)

Presumably we're here because we value broader discussion than is had in echo chamber groups.

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Oh, groups usually have hierarchies too. So even within themselves there's always a bit of a food chain. They would be disorganized and lack identity otherwise. See also: why Occupy Wall Street failed. It fought against hierarchies within its group.

We need some sociologists to maybe chime in with some group dynamics information. I am part of a tribal gathering that is called "Burning Man" and certainly there is something like a hierarchy. But in that society, those at the top of the pyramid work harder than those underneath them. This has given me new insight into why tribal chiefs had power - it was GIVEN to them by the tribe. Our society doesn't work that way at least in the way that we have a national leader ostensibly at the top of a giant social pyramid.

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Given the fact that we have a lot of dissent on here, by design, what is MLW's out-group ? The worst trolls ? Spammers ?

That changes based on the topic. The the broadest group definitions like "left" or "right" are fluid depending on what we're discussing. The subset that is "in" or "out" on a different topic will often be a collection of people who would not be anywhere near agreement on a different topic.

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http://www.unep.org/geo/pdfs/geo5/GEO5_report_C17.pdf

It's difficult to find studies to substantiate any claim about environmental awareness, but this UN study certainly shows that there is more attention being paid.

As new groups, and new communications modes emerge - they will find more to criticize, since their concerns could not have been addressed prior to the existence of the group, ie. they had no voice, no power, and no common goals that anybody could have addressed. It seems to me similar to what happens when a monarchy, or dictatorship falls. The clamouring for power creates new conflicts, or emerges conflicts that were pushed down before.

What we're seeing today is a lot of groups fighting against the power, the money, the status quo, and each other. Paradoxically, things are also getting better.

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That changes based on the topic. The the broadest group definitions like "left" or "right" are fluid depending on what we're discussing. The subset that is "in" or "out" on a different topic will often be a collection of people who would not be anywhere near agreement on a different topic.

Yes - and pretty much all of us re-align based on topics. I am told that I align on the left side of the spectrum, but that changes when we discuss global trade, proportional representation, or ridiculous claims of fascism of our current government.

Most others here does that too, from what I have seen.

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Yes - and pretty much all of us re-align based on topics. I am told that I align on the left side of the spectrum, but that changes when we discuss global trade, proportional representation, or ridiculous claims of fascism of our current government.

Most others here does that too, from what I have seen.

Yep. I'm mostly right when it comes to domestic policy (esp. economic), but I can't get on board with most foreign policy coming from the right.

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Interesting discussion on the nature of online communities. Besides the points that have already been brought up... I would say that most of these communities are a lot less robust than other types of communities. People join and leave online communities with a minimal cost of entry or exit. Got bored of MLW? Stop posting. In that sense, there is less investment or meaning in being a member/participant of a given online community than most types of "real world" communities.

That being said, I expect online communities to continue to become more important going forward into the future. People will increasingly join and invest in communities that they want to be a part of, rather than communities that they are part of by default as a result of where they were born or what language they learned or what ethnicity their parents were. Communities also exist within each other... "gamer" may be a community (or may have been one ten years ago perhaps), but there are many communities within it. But, such voluntary communities need not be just online communities; there are many communities that one can join in "real life". For example, the communities that I probably associate myself most strongly with are "climbers" (i.e. rock and mountain climbing) and "scientists", with any other modes of self-identification like "Canadian" or "atheist" or "Russian-speaking" all far less relevant on a daily basis.

Now as for the topic of gamergate... I've seen people post all over facebook about this, and there the discussion seems to mostly be focused on the mysogyny and sexism aspects.

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We need some sociologists to maybe chime in with some group dynamics information.

Well, you can check out Muzafer Sherif and Peter Blau on the subject, if you want to know more about the theories that sociologists and social psychologists use for groups more broadly. It's not my field, so I don't know about the key updates to the theories as it pertains to online communities and groups. Those two provide the foundations from which contemporary theories are built.

Edited by cybercoma
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Wow you guys are so uninformed on this topic, it isn't funny.

Well I don't blame you. The mainstream media has blindly followed the narrative of the anti-gamergate side and uncritically regurgitates the same false information. It's not like bbc or the new your times wouldn't fact check anything, right???

Yes, it's all about poor damsels in distress being attacked by evil misogynistic basement dwellers. It's not like there would be any real underlying issues and that certain groups are trying to misrepresent their opposition or anything. Right?

And I thought that the misinformation on the Syrian war and Idle no More was bad. But this is on another level completely.

George Orwell was right:

"(S)he who controls the past controls the future. And (s)he who controls the past controls the present."

Maybe do your own research and don't blindly believe that the mainstream media tells you?

#gamergate

^ I don't use twitter but it is appropriate.

Edited by -1=e^ipi
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Now as for the topic of gamergate... I've seen people post all over facebook about this, and there the discussion seems to mostly be focused on the mysogyny and sexism aspects.

Because the majority of facebook users are misled by the mainstream media and cannot think critically. So they are focusing on the distraction from the real issues.

Edited by -1=e^ipi
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Sure. Here's some research.

Is GamerGate about harassing women or about media ethics? The numbers give a pretty clear picture.

http://www.newsweek.com/gamergate-about-media-ethics-or-harassing-women-harassment-data-show-279736?piano_t=1

Oh no, another biased misleading media article about gamergate! Clearly that refutes everything I wrote. *sarcasm*

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Care to demonstrate how it's biased or are you just dismissing it with a genetic fallacy? Clearly #GamerGate is more interested in attacking female developers and women who are neither media nor the developers. That is illustrated by the numbers in that article. Moreover, your claim of some sort of bias against #GamerGate is laughable since this is from Newsweek of all places. It's not even one of the media outlets #GamerGate has targeted.

What's also interesting is that despite your claims that the media is biased, nobody knows what they're takiing about, and people should just shut up until they do their research, you haven't once condemned the disgusting violence against women perpetrated in the name of GamerGate. It's out there for everyone to see for themselves. GamerGate may have started about something se, but it is clearly not that thing anymore. Any rational person who's even remotely interested in fighting for ethical game journalism is smart to stay the hell away from GamerGate and not associate themselves with the appalling idiocy that has come out of it.

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The other silly thing you're arguing is that "the mainstream media" thinks and acts in a particular way. You're reifying the media as if it's a not an abstract thing, but instead is capable of actions, thinking, and emotions. That is a huge flaw in your arguments, if I was willing to glorify the things you say by calling them arguments.

Edited by cybercoma
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Care to demonstrate how it's biased or are you just dismissing it with a genetic fallacy?

I will in a different thread (where I present the full story not this false narrative regurgitated by the mainstream media), but I'm trying to get you to think for yourself and question the narrative. Though with your level of cognitive dissonance based on our interactions in the past I doubt it will prove effective.

Come on, can you not think of even 1 single important thing that is being omitted here as to why the article is biased? Try using your critical thinking skills.

Clearly #GamerGate is more interested in attacking female developers and women who are neither media nor the developers.

And clearly war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. Why question the narrative? It is 'clearly' correct so does not require further evidence.

That is illustrated by the numbers in that article.

Because receiving someone tweets proves that the entire #gamergate is about misogynistic bigots and there are no underlying issues or reasons why the individuals listed in the article would receive tweets. Some tweets being misogynistic implies all tweets are misogynistic. With flawless logic like that, how can I not accept the mainstream media narrative? *sarcasm*

Moreover, your claim of some sort of bias against #GamerGate is laughable since this is from Newsweek of all places. It's not even one of the media outlets #GamerGate has targeted.

You don't get it, do you? They are all biased. BBC, new york times, CBC, MSNBC, etc. They simply regurgitate the same story from other media outlets and uncritically go with the 'damsals in distress from evil misogynistic gamers' narrative. It's such a good vs evil narrative, why would they challenge it? Why would anyone risk their career and be labelled a misogynist by not going along with the narrative? It's even better than the Assad bad, Rebels good narrative the MSM tried to sell us before ISIS took power. Investigative journalism is a thing of the past. Even news media that are usually critical of the MSM like The Young Turks or Sun News uncritically go along with this narrative because it appeals to their political agendas.

you haven't once condemned the disgusting violence against women perpetrated in the name of GamerGate. It's out there for everyone to see for themselves.

There has been no violence in the name of GamerGate. There have been threats of violence. With respect to the threats of violence, I condemn them.

GamerGate may have started about something se, but it is clearly not that thing anymore.

Lol, 'something'. Can you please tell me what this 'something' is?

I mean it isn't even that hard. Try using google.

Any rational person who's even remotely interested in fighting for ethical game journalism is smart to stay the hell away from GamerGate and not associate themselves with the appalling idiocy that has come out of it.

Cause it's not like gamergate has anything to do with ethical journalism or misleading media or anything...

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The other silly thing you're arguing is that "the mainstream media" thinks and acts in a particular way.

No, rather it is a lack of thinking. The vast majority of journalists just blindly follow the narrative and don't question it or do investigative journalism. Once the narrative has been established all these media sources just regurgitate the same story like lemmings following each other off a cliff or an electron avalanche in a transistor.

It also helps if the narrative confirms their pre-existing dogma and bias. Then they are more likely to go along with it and less likely to bother with facts. The SJW infiltration of various media sources also helps.

You're reifying the media as if it's a not an abstract thing, but instead is capable of actions, thinking, and emotions. That is a huge flaw in your arguments

Strawman argument.

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It sure as hell as not the "mainstream media" that doxxed Felicia Day in under ten minutes and completely failed to doxx Chris Kluwe.

Indeed it wasn't.

Now was it the majority people that associate themselves with gamergate (let alone all) that did this? No.

But whatever helps to paint the dissenting viewpoint as misogynistic bigots I guess...

The difference is the way they were treated is pretty much all you need to know about the situation.

Yeah... It's not like knowing any other facts is important or anything... *sarcasm*

Your argument would be like saying 'A muslim killed a solider on parliament hill this week. How that soldier was treated is all you need to know. Therefore, all muslims are terrorists'. The only difference is that you are using gamergates rather than muslims.

Edited by -1=e^ipi
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